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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Your preference: The psychological approach vs the paranormal approach. (17 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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mastermindreader
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Ben-

I disagree with your implicit statement that most "intelligent" people don't accept the possibility of psi. And I use the word "psi" here to separate it from the umbrella term "psychic," which means different things to different people. For example, while I believe that psi has been proven by normal scientific standards, yet perhaps not by the "extraordinary" standard demanded by skeptics, I don't believe in ghosts, or the many "oracles" that are typically associated with psychics by the lay public.

(Close to ninety percent of Americans also believe in God. Are you saying that they are lying or that they just aren't intelligent?

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147887/americ......god.aspx )

I also question your conclusion that most people who say they believe in psi, for example, don't really mean it. It could just as easily be argued that many people who accept it are likely to say they are skeptical of it if asked, especially if they feel that they'll be perceived as less than intelligent if they state their honest belief.

A LOT of people believe in things that they wouldn't necessarily want to admit in public.
IbiMania
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At this point, I will say there is no way we can conclude which side is more believable. However, I see a pattern in many posters here, that is personal belief and your thoughts on if audience can believe your claims actually affecting your choice of premise.
MatCult
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, Ben Blau wrote:
The statistics suggest that more people don't believe that psychics are real. And since I'm part of that majority, I'd much rather present my mentalism in a way that is in consonance with the beliefs my audiences come to the table with, as well as my own.

Seems reasonable to me. I'm not sure why anyone is trying to convert/convince/change Ben's mind on this.

I think referring to "intelligent audiences" has made the issue emotive for some participants in the debate. However, there are studies that suggest that levels of belief in various pseudo-sciences (ESP, alternative therapies) drop as levels of education increase - that is to say fewer college graduates believe in these things than high school graduates.

So that would seem to support some of the things that Ben was discussing (unless I'm misrepresenting him - in which case - sorry Ben!)
"Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business."
MatCult
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, MatCult wrote:
However, there are studies that suggest that levels of belief in various pseudo-sciences (ESP, alternative therapies) drop as levels of education increase - that is to say fewer college graduates believe in these things than high school graduates.


For clarity's sake I want to point out that even in the college graduate group mentioned above, significant proportions of them believed in ESP/alternative therapies. So I'm certainly not saying the level of belief drops to zero - just that there is some evidence of it being reduced.
"Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business."
IAIN
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Personally, I didn't see it as anyone trying to change ben's mind...just trying to align the logic of someone who is sceptical and pro-science, (so wanting to deal in evidence and data and so on), yet also saying that it is his belief that those who answered the gallup polls, some of them didn't answer completely honestly...which may or may not be true! So it was that lack of evidence (it is no more than an opinion) which didn't make sense to me, and made his whole argument seem at odds with itself...

data is data, we can perhaps add a +/-3% as a variable, but no more than that...

so I found ben's view a juxtaposition of sorts...but definitely wasn't trying to get him to agree with how I see the psychic vs psychological...
IAIN
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I am a big fan of Eugene burger, and love having provocative opening questions to ask people "ever had a psychic experience? Do you believe in it?"

and instantly you get feedback from everyone at a table, and therefore instant insight into how they see lots of things...plus it lets you adapt or twist what you do with different people...ive found it a useful question...
MatCult
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, IAIN wrote:
I am a big fan of Eugene burger, and love having provocative opening questions to ask people "ever had a psychic experience? Do you believe in it?"

and instantly you get feedback from everyone at a table, and therefore instant insight into how they see lots of things...plus it lets you adapt or twist what you do with different people...ive found it a useful question...


LIKE

In a lovely moment of synchronicity, I just this minute emailed you about something completely different.
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mastermindreader
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Neither the psychological nor the paranormal approaches are more inherently believable. The believability comes from the performer's conviction and the consistency between his premise and his demonstrations.
Marmen
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I can assure you all from personal experience that intelligent people galore believe in psychic stuff. I have done many, many psychic readings for money since I am a very wicked person and have found that most of my clients are pretty intelligent. It isn't so much how intelligent the person is as to whether they believe in this stuff or not but what kind of person they are. For example, it is rare to get engineers coming for readings. Or doctors. Or dentists. Or lawyers. Or accountants. They think more logically and scientifically. Something to do with all that right brain-left brain stuff which is beyond my own brain.

However, I get plenty of writers, nurses and others coming for readings. Business men galore. Yep. I was quite surprised when I first started to find that hard headed businessmen come for readings all the time. And plenty of police officers too although I am sure they don't tell their colleagues. They are not coming to investigate the wickedness of the psychic-they are coming to find out answers to their problems.

The groups of people I described in my last paragraph are just as intelligent as the people in the first paragraph. Possibly they have more imagination. So my conclusion is that LOTS of people believe in psychic reality. However, it is a different thing when you see some chap on a stage pattering in a very polished manner in a show business setting. In those cases I think most people in the audience are wordly enough to know they are seeing trickery at work. A few won't but there are always a few daft people around. Oddly enough, I find that people who are metaphysically inclined see through it faster than anyone else.

Most mentalists disagree with me on this but I think they are in a state of self delusion where this is concerned. Just because a few silly people come up to them afterwards and chatter about their dreams makes them believe that everyone is daft enough to go along with it. People might suspend their disbelief for a little while but when that while passes they know in their hearts that they have seen a load of show business guff.

I would love to see a mentalist give out one of those awful evaluation forms that marketing types chatter about to every member of the audience. Not to find out if the punters thought you were good or not but just to include the question "do you think what you saw tonight was (1) Genuine phenomena (2) Pure psychology (3) A magic trick.?" I bet the results would shock a few of you.
mastermindreader
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That's exactly how I came up with the percentages I gave earlier.
Marmen
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You must have done some shows in California!
mastermindreader
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To be fair, yes I have. Many of them.

I go where the best audiences are.Smile
IbiMania
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Guys I am not from the states, can you let me in on this joke about audiences from California?
mastermindreader
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Some refer to LA as "lala land." Since the sixties, California has supposedly been a magnet for New Age types, alternative religions, etc.

The fact is, though, that the audiences there are as hip and intelligent as can be found anywhere. If not more so.
Sealegs
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Not long ago I was beginning to think that this section of the Café had become a moribund area, unable to provide anything much of any interest. We unfortunately in recent times seem to have lost a lot of good regular posters (such as Greg Acre)... along with some of the annoying characters... who despite their annoyingness... were none the less, 'colourful'.

But this thread has been an interesting read.

I especially thought Mike Ince voiced his position and thoughts in a very well reasoned way.

For me though, as a performer (who isn't a mentalist) the following really seemed to hit… if not 'the' at least 'a'... nail on the head…
Quote:
I want those who think it's all psychological to keep thinking that. I want those who think it's paranormal to continue to think that. I want those who think its both to believe that. But, most of all, regardless of what they believe or don't believe, I want everyone to be entertained and mystified. (And maybe even argue among themselves about what they just saw.)


And…
Quote:
Neither the psychological nor the paranormal approaches are more inherently believable. The believability comes from the performer's conviction and the consistency between his premise and his demonstrations.


What I like about these comments (from Bob) is that they are as succinct as they are inclusive and I find that to be a very convincing philosophy and position to adopt. We are after all (or... 'you are after all', if, as a non mentalist I'm not considered part of the club) primarily entertainers.
Neal Austin

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Marmen
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Sealegs. The colourful, annoying characters haven't completely gone away. I know one of them who is still here. However, this does bring up a point. A performer SHOULD be a colourful character! That is why I can't bear watching magicians. They bore the crap out of me. And mentalists are even worse. They are the most colourless personalities in showbusiness. When I see entertainers on stage I don't want them to have the personality of a bank manager. Without some sort of colourful personality they may as well not be doing it. Alas most of them have the personalities of dial tones.
Dr Spektor
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If highly intelligent people choose to BELIEVE in gods, messiahs, pantheons of deities, alien cover ups, conspiracy theories, intangible realities and such.... why on earth would we think intelligent people could not BELIEVE in PSI....

By the way I am saying BELIEVE doesn't mean they suddenly fundamentally ACCEPT 100% IN ITS EXISTENCE - they have somewhere a hope, a space, a power to suspend disbelief to entertain the possibility and see what happens.

One basic thing all humans have is magical thinking and the power to regress under stress to ancient defence mechanisms.... then everything can be believable.

In the end, I am unsure why anyone in their premise wants to define their source of effects to much - the target audience will create their own explanations... we can help create a frame... but by giving to clear an explanation, you can create a challenge situation right off the bat.

IMHO
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IbiMania
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Dr. Spektor, I think we did conclude earlier in the thread that it is more about performer's beliefs than the audience's belief that lead to his preference in choosing a pretense.

1) If a performer thinks that his act as a psychological guru is convincing and/or entertaining, he will go for it.

2) If a performer thinks that his act as a mindreader/psychic is more convincing and/or entertaining, he will go for it.

And as long as these opinions exist, these two broad approaches will remain

It is important that the performer picks what he believes is more convincing in order for him to be confident.

And above all, this is something I think we all agree with (correct me if I am wrong) it is more about entertaining than it is about making the audience believe.
Dr Spektor
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You concluded, I didn't.

People who become 100% in their conclusions is usually wrong.

2 premises.... and a performer who can only choose one or the other - kind of reductionistic and destroys a lot of potential.

Also, some posts above seem to be supporting an alternative approach I was speaking to.

Having performed for 2000 muslims one time, since I see you are from Dubai - tell me, if you wanted to believe you are psychic or supernatural... tell me how that would go? I was told by the organizing committee many of their fears of me performing any sort of magic, mentalism, or anything - so I adjusted everything slightly understanding the audience despite my own stance - went over well. best part was I did my usual effects and at the end got an ovation and told my words were in line with the Prophet. This was with Imams and many s scholars. Note I am not a muslim nor share those beliefs. But I respect theirs. My own inner confidence does not come from either of the artificially reduced stances you propose

How about read up on basic performance theory, our Max. entertainment, educational theory and such.

Whatever, I forgot why I don't post in Penny. Conclude away - I'm concluded with this thread. Sorry for sharing.
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IbiMania
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Dr. Spektor,
I believe you are taking unnecessary offense. I did not say you concluded, I merely mentioned that we did meaning a bunch of us. And I did not mean 100% fixed conclusion. it is more of an agree to disagree situation. I mentioned this because you happened to repeat a point mentioned earlier.

What I find ironic is, for a person who takes offense and gets defensive so easily to a point of leaving a discussion, you make quite offensive remarks yourself.


"How about read up on basic performance theory, our Max. entertainment, educational theory and such"

Assuming the person on the other side is ignorant is pretty easy.

However this wont stop me from agreeing with you where I find you to be right and that is about the muslim example, yes it would not go down very well to make psychic claims there.

And I also admit me trying to fit it into 2 factors was not very wise because there are other factors like laws, marketing, unique selling point etc. that can affect ones choice. However on this thread the 2 cases I mention seem to be the likely case.
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